Sunday, May 17, 2009

Experience the Mountains to Sound Greenway

To many Seattle area locals, the Mountains to Sound Greenway has become one of the crowing jewels of the Pacific Northwest. The “Greenway” as it is lovingly called, stretches over 100 miles along Interstate 90 from the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, over Snoqualmie Pass and into Central Washington. The Greenway encompasses protected and working forests, farms, historic sites, lakes, campgrounds, rivers, trails, wildlife habitat and vibrant communities. Of the 1.4 million acres of land in the Greenway, over 750,000 acres have been preserved and are held by local, state and federal agencies in trust for the public good.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, founded in 1991, is the nonprofit organization founded by Jim Ellis, to help protect these lands and preserve them for public benefit. The Trust works to preserve this land by encouraging public land acquisition and through environmental stewardship and educational activities. They have successfully united hikers, corporate executives, government leaders, environmentalists and community advocates who share a vision of careful planning for growth balanced by preservation of forested open spaces, clean air and water, for ourselves and for future generations.

As many of you are aware, I have been given a unique opportunity to come to Seattle and work with Jim Ellis on his upcoming autobiography. Part of Jim’s exciting life story includes his dedication to preserving The Mountains to Sound Greenway which for him, began as a lifetime labor of love in memory of his brother Bob who passed away fighting in World War II.

Jim and Bob Ellis fell in love with this beautiful country back in
1936, when their father gave the two boys title to land located
adjacent to the Raging River (near the town of Preston seen on the map above). The stipulation was that they work together without their father's help and build a log cabin. Armed with nothing more than a booklet diagramming how to build a log cabin, the two boys went to work. It took them three summers to complete the project and was a monumental feat for two young boys alone in the wilderness with nothing more than a booklet and the grit to get the job done. They met people along the way who cooked them better meals than their provisions offered and a man with a mule who they paid to help them pull the tree logs they had cut down in the woods back to the cabin site. "Hermit Haven" as it was dubbed all those years ago, has stood the test of time and remains in the Ellis family today. Above is a photo of Jim outside his cabin last week.

My trip with Jim included a personal tour of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, with him pointing out key vistas along the way. Photos below show a small portion of the Greenway facing northeast toward Snoqualmie Pass on a beautiful clear day.

Experiencing the beauty of this county first hand guided by the man who has given so much of himself to save it, was a rare opportunity. It is God's country to be sure. Since 1991, the Greenway Trust says that together government and private partners have saved 200,000 acres of forest and farmland through public purchases and conservation easements. The Raging River, a tributary of the Snoqualmie, supports one-fifth of the larger river's chinook runs that have been devastated by logging and building. Jim remains hopeful that the once-plentiful chinook runs will return now under state ownership.

For additional information on the hiking trails throughout the Mountains to Sound Greenway, visit their website at

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